The Ostrich Fern
How to grow the ostrich fern, Matteuccua struthiopteris. Transplanting ostrich ferns. Facts about ostrich plume fern propagation and fiddleheads.
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Matteuccua struthiopteris is one of the tallest and most regal ferns in cultivation. The fronds which can grow to 60 inches in length are a striking accent at the back of any shady garden bed.
The deciduous plumes grow from an underground rhizome in an attractive vase shape.
How to Grow Ostrich Plume Fern:
These ferns require constantly moist soil and shade. If they receive too much sun, the plumes will bleach and burn.
The less water they get, the more compactly they will grow. But, if they get too dry, they may go dormant. Avoid overhead watering as this tends to knock the graceful fronds down.
It is best to plant them where they will have room to spread because spread they will! Give each plant 3 feet in every direction. If the plants get too crowded, they won't be able to display the desirable vase shape.
Transplanting them is easy. Just dig the clump up and move it. As long as it goes into another moist, shady spot; it will not be bothered.
Propagation is just as simple. The plant will take care of this itself. Just dig up the babies that it makes and move them to new locations.
The ostrich plume fern is hardy from zone 2a-10b. Protect it from strong winds.
Ostrich Fern Fiddleheads
These are edible and said to be tasty. In fact, the most tasty of all the fiddlehead ferns. They are served in fine dining establishments and sold at some farmers markets.
They are only edible in early spring. Even then, they are not safe to eat in large quantities. Ingest them at your own risk. Neither I, nor Botanical Journeys Plant Guides takes any responsibility for whatever reaction you may have.
If you want to try them, pick the fiddleheads before the leaves begin to open and steam them for 12 minutes with a little butter and salt.
If they are surrounded in fuzzy, silver hairs, it's a cinnamon fern.
Return to Types of Ferns
Adiantum Pedatum Maidenhair Ferns
Southern Maidenhair Fern